Monday, June 8, 2020

Vinegar for the Home, Garden and Barn

Vinegar is such a great pantry staple. I'm willing to bet you've never walked into a home that didn't at least have a small bottle on hand in the kitchen. It's not just for canning goods in the fall but an all-season asset. Here I will go over a few of my most frequently used vinegar hacks. 

                                                            For the Kitchen

Have you ever wished your fruits and vegetables from the store would just last a little longer? Or can't seem to get all of the residue off from your grapes? You can do a vinegar rinse right in your kitchen sink. I don't do it nearly as often as I should. A while ago I was eating grapes and couldn't understand why they had such a bitter taste even after I had rinsed them off and I began looking at them a little closer and saw a film on them that I could wipe off with a paper towel. Once that film was gone the grape tasted sweet and delicious like it should. But what was that film? It was pesticides. Ew. I started looking up the easiest way to remove it because although it was great fun to use my whole lunch break to wipe off every individual grape I just simply don't have that kind of time. That's when I found out about vinegar rinsing fruits and vegetables and try to mention it whenever I find an opening and my wonderful sister set the stage for me yesterday for my biggest audience yet regarding vinegar rinsing your fruits. So here's how.

As soon as you get home from the grocery store fill part of your sink with room temperature or luke warm water. The amount of water should be enough to cover your fruits and veggies and will vary with how many you have. I typically fill my sink a third of the way and use one and a half cups of white distilled vinegar. Let them sit for 15 minutes and drain your sink and set them on a drying mat or towel to dry. Once they are completely dry put them in the refrigerator and store as normal. It is that simple. Here are some photos of the process from when Allison used this technique. 

Your fruits will float and that is okay make sure to just swirl them around a bit to get all of the sides. The vinegar breaks down residues and pulls them away from surfaces so they are easily washed off. Rinsing after soaking isn't necessary unless you feel you have used to much vinegar, as a general rule of thumb if my hands smell like vinegar when taking them out of the water I've used too much and would want to rinse them after draining the sink. Not only does this take residues off from your fruits but will clear your vegetables of aphids that may be lingering in the creases or leaves as aphids despise vinegar. This will also preserve the life of your fruits and vegetables as vinegar is used for food preservation. 

As an added bonus when your sink is now empty go ahead and generously sprinkle some baking soda into and around the drain and pour the vinegar into your drain and it will fizz and break down anything caught up in the sink tubes and clear it away I do this about once a month or after we clean fish in the sink. I sprinkle the whole bottom of the sink and rinse it out with vinegar to get rid of any lingering smells.

                                                    Vinegar for the Garden

As mentioned in the Kitchen, aphids hate vinegar and that's the moral of this story. If you find that your cucumbers or squash (most susceptible to aphids in my experience) are being chewed up by bugs or something you can't see then this is a great way to reclaim your garden in a pinch. It does not work as well as store bought insecticides or fungicides etc but it works none the less. 

The top photo is when my mom finally told me something was eating her Gold Rush Squash (I mention the exact species of squash as it is labeled on sites as disease resistant and it is notable to understand the difference between plant diseases and when you have an infestation of insects). The second photo is after two weeks of using a vinegar mix on the plants to kill the aphids. For this mixture you will use 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle and apply to dry leaves. Do not apply before watering as you will rinse it all off. The best practice would be to water your garden and apply to the affected plants when their leaves are dry. You will need to reapply after it rains as well because again it has been rinsed off. 

                                                                In the Barn

I recently joined a few pages on Facebook regarding homesteading and backyard sustenance and on one for backyard meat rabbits there was discussion on Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Although there is no documented evidence to support the claims made I have tried ACV on my own livestock and have noticed a remarkable difference. Not only has the smell in the barn subsided from the rabbits as their urine can be extremely potent but the chickens have started to show great improvements with their digestion. They went from being visibly fat to a more lean and healthy appearance within a few days of using ACV. The claim with ACV is that is aids in digestion and immune health. When using ACV it is the same concept as your fruit rinse. If you can smell it in the water its too much. When filling a 3 gallon pail with water I will add MAYBE half a cup of ACV as well and then fill the animals water containers. I use this method for the rabbits, turkeys and chickens- both meat and layers and have definitely noticed a positive impact. 

I hope you found at least one of these uses helpful to you! Feel free to share your own experiences and photos in the comments on my website!